Fernandinho: The new boy from Brazil

Fernandinho claims to have taken a pay cut to join Manchester City. So what is the attraction? Steve Tongue finds out

It all began at Newcastle United, with a team that had finished 17th in the top flight the previous season. The Brazilian they proudly paraded in the summer of 1987 as the first from that exotic country to join an English club may not have been a Socrates or a Zico, but the gawky little striker called Mirandinha was a trailblazer.

His credentials included having scored for Brazil against England at Wembley in May of that year and he lasted two seasons at Newcastle, scoring 20 goals before falling out with the manager, Jim Smith, as United were relegated in bottom position.

It would be another eight years before their local rivals Middlesbrough stunned football by signing a genuine talent and authentic Brazilian in Juninho for the first of three spells with the club, and although the list of his compatriots braving the British weather since then has grown, it has tended to feature a certain type of player: not many strikers, few genuinely creative midfield players in the Juninho mould – until Chelsea signed Oscar last year – but plenty of defenders and fewer attacking midfielders, nevertheless perceived to have the skill-set associated with the beaches on which they are all assumed to have learnt the game.

Manchester City found that Robinho, having cost a British-record fee at the time of £32.5 million, did not fit in, which has not deterred them from paying almost as much for a different sort of Brazilian. Fernandinho has spent the last eight seasons with Shakhtar Donetsk, which is in itself testimony to an ability to survive in a different culture and play at a high level. Last season in the Champions' League he made more tackles and interceptions than any other Shakhtar player and in the 3-1 defeat by Arsenal in last weekend's friendly an affronted Jack Wilshere was among those left on the floor by the force of his challenges.

Speaking through an interpreter while learning a fifth language to add to Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Italian, he said: "I feel well suited to the game that is played in the Premier League. I know that many Brazilians haven't been well thought of in England because of the different style of play here. I want to change the perception that people have over here about the way that Brazilians play.

From what I understand, English teams are fearful about signing players straight from Brazil. This is because of the different style of play and the different culture, and the belief that maybe Brazilians are not well suited to the Premier League. Maybe there is some truth in that. Perhaps England does have a unique football style that Brazilians struggle to understand."

The point about players coming straight from Rio or Sao Paulo is a valid one; eight seasons in European football should prove invaluable and has at least offered abundant time for scouts to do due diligence. They could have learnt plenty without venturing further than London: Fernandinho was outstanding in the Champions' League against Chelsea last season and has also scored against Spurs at White Hart Lane. "I know there were negotiations between Shakhtar and Chelsea," he said. "Shakhtar told me they had refused an offer. There was also a stage a year ago when I spoke to people from Tottenham, but nothing came of that."

He is clear too on one of the main virtues demanded in England: "I think one of my biggest qualities is my consistency. I believe my performances do not go up and down to any great extent. I don't have a fantastic game one week and a bad game the next. What I offer is more balanced, I tend to play at the same level."

In a season that will end with a World Cup in Brazil, he needs that level to be sufficiently high to demand the attention of the national manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari. Of the player's five international appearances, four came two years ago.

"I decided that I had to leave Ukraine to play in a strong league that would help me get the attention of the people in charge of the Brazilian national team. I will try to do my best because it would be great to play in the World Cup, especially at home."

Difficult as it may be to believe of a player joining City, he is understood to have taken a cut in salary. "Why should people be surprised by that?" he asked. "Maybe England should have more players who don't only think of money. If I only wanted money and a comfortable life from my career, I would have stayed in the Ukraine. I was happy there, I won six titles, I knew everyone and I was a big part of the club. But I was presented with the challenge of coming to Manchester City and I am aware that over the last few years this is a project that has grown a lot. The owners and the people who are managing the team wants to win titles and big trophies – and I wanted to be a part of that.

"Of course, I will be paid as a professional footballer, but the only thing I am greedy for is success. In my country we say that football is like a huge plate of food – well I want to eat everything."

Premier Brazilians...

Anderson Man United

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

Fernandinho Man City

Fabio da Silva Man United

Heurelho Gomes Tottenham

Lucas Leiva Liverpool

David Luiz Chelsea

Guilherme do Prado Southampton

Lucas Piazón Chelsea

Paulinho Tottenham

Oscar Chelsea

Ramires Chelsea

Rafael da Silva Man United

Sandro Tottenham

... Brazilian old boys

Alex Chelsea 2007-12

Julio Baptista Arsenal 2006-07

Geovanni Man City, Hull City, 2007-10

Gilberto Silva Arsenal 2002-08

Juninho Middlesbrough 1995-97, 1999-00, 2002-04

Robinho Man City 2008-10

Roque Junior Leeds 2003-04

Kleberson Man United 2003-05

Andre Santos Arsenal 2011-12

Emerson Thome Sheff Wed, Chelsea, Sunderland, Bolton, Wigan 1997-06

Manchester City v Newcastle is on Sky Sports 1 tomorrow night, kick-off 8pm

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: HR Administrator / Training Coordinator

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: An HR Administrator / Training Coordinator is requi...

Belong: Trustee

This is a volunteer role: Belong: Could you help change lives and reduce crime...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Director - HR Operations

£49462 - £56975 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you interested in shaping t...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food